This life of Lane’s: Local singer finds serendipity

By in Culture

Saskatoon singer-songwriter Jen Lane’s highly anticipated new album is a labour of love. This Life of Mine is set to drop in February 2016, with a special release show at The Bassment on Feb. 27.

I sat down with Lane and John Antoniuk — Lane’s partner in life and music — to discuss Lane’s new record, which she attributes to fate.

“Well the first word that pops into my head is chaos,” Lane said, noting that chaos can be positive. “It’s meant to be. I don’t know if it’s serendipity that I’m looking for or if it’s fate or if it’s destiny. I think it’s just — it’s your path.”

Saskatonian Jen Lane found inspiration in her personal life for her fifth studio album, available February 2016.

Lane has been a Saskatonian her whole life, and has a unique connection to the University of Saskatchewan. She met Antoniuk, who studied English at the U of S, on stage at Louis’ Pub nearly 14 years ago. Having each opened for Canadian duo Tegan and Sara in the past, they knew of each other but hadn’t interacted or seen each other’s work. Antoniuk’s set followed Lane’s, and he made no secret of his admiration.

“I said to the crowd, ‘Round of applause for Jen Lane.’ And I said, ‘I think I have a crush on her, but don’t tell her,’” Antoniuk said.

Lane was at the event with a “potential suitor” that night, but it would be the last time. This suitor eventually attended Lane and Antoniuk’s wedding — held at the perfect venue.

“We were like, ‘Well where are we going to do it?’ ‘Well, Louis’. We don’t know how to put on a wedding. We know how to put on a show.’ So we rented Louis’ and we put on a big show, had some supper, got married on the very stage that we first shook hands. So that was pretty special,” Lane said.

The pair smiled and maintained eye contact as they told me their origin story, looking very much in love.

However, love doesn’t preclude life’s difficult situations. The last in a series of invasive medical procedures on Lane’s foot left her housebound for 18 months and stuck in a rut, despite the success of 2010’s For the Night, an album that saw Lane playing multiple spots at festivals like South by Southwest and Canadian Music Week. Finally, Lane found unlikely inspiration in writing her new track “Shoe.”

“People always ask me, why ‘Shoe?’ And it’s because that’s what they call the Solitary Housing Unit [on Orange is the New Black]. So I’m stuck at the house. I’m watching way too much Orange is the New Black ‘cause I’m in a cast and crutches, and it’s like, it seemed like the perfect thing to do … I just thought, ‘Oh I kinda feel like I’m in the SHU too.’ So I just had fun with it, and the word stuck.”

Lane and Antoniuk were touring their album of duets, Jen & John, when a friend arranged free accommodation at a place he called “the band house” near Kelowna, B.C. The house, Bottega, is a serene 13-acre alpaca farm and retreat centre. Singer-songwriter Eric Clapton once used the guitars that now sit there. Lane fell in love with the studio and, with the help of a friend, arranged to record there.

“From that moment, I just kind of grabbed the bull by the horns and said, ‘I’m just going to start looking into stuff and phoning people up’ … It just came together so seamlessly and so beautifully.”

Sadly, just when recording was set to begin, Lane’s grandfather passed away.

“My grandpa was an artist, like visual, sculptor/painter/poet and was a huge supporter of my music. My first thought was, ‘My grandpa will kick my ass if I don’t do this,’” Lane said.

Fuelled by the natural setting her grandpa would have loved, Lane pressed forward, letting the loss and her experience with health problems feed her inspiration. Songs such as “Movin’ On” and “Fools” describe this notion of letting go of the things that hold you back.

“Accept your pain,” Lane said. It might sound counter-intuitive, but for Lane, it has been a way to move forward, resulting in the honest and powerful This Life of Mine.

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Patty Hails

Photo: Sarah Johanson / Supplied

Featured Image: Jason Kaufhold / Supplied